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Obama Seeks Confrontation With Israel: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Oct. 29, 2014 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the intensifying global pressures on Israel is to firmly reject any further territorial withdrawals that would put Israel’s security at risk, stating that “Israel will not lose hope for peace, but neither will it cling to false hope.”
Obama, Not Bibi, Created U.S.-Israel Crisis : Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Oct. 28, 2014 — Since Barack Obama became president, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has been a reliable indicator of administration opinion about foreign-policy issues.
Barack Obama, Bewildered Bystander: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2014 — The president is upset. Very upset.
Obama Needs to Call Bush: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 5, 2014— Bill Clinton made news earlier this month when he revealed, at a joint appearance with George W. Bush , that the 43rd president used to call him twice a year during his troubled second term "just to talk."
The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, Oct. 28, 2014
The Education of a Wartime President: Alan M. Dershowitz, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 5, 2014
How the Jewish State is Being Demonized: Clifford D. May, National Post, Oct. 30, 2014
Officials Reveal US is Cozying Up to Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas: Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 29, 2014
Obama Administrations’ Undiplomatic Remarks Detached from Reality: Rachel Avraham, Jerusalem Online, Oct. 29, 2014
Candidly Speaking, Oct. 29, 2014
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the intensifying global pressures on Israel is to firmly reject any further territorial withdrawals that would put Israel’s security at risk, stating that “Israel will not lose hope for peace, but neither will it cling to false hope.” He was also forthright about his intention to continue residential construction in Jerusalem, noting that “all previous Israeli governments have done so. … It is also clear to the Palestinians that these territories will remain within Israel’s borders in any deal.”
The Obama administration’s response to Israel’s confirmation that it would continue to create homes in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem was vindictive, brutal and in stark contrast to its deafening silence in relation to Palestinian incitement. The State Department went so far as to accuse Israel of acting “illegally,” and in a manner “incompatible with the pursuit of peace”. In an interview with American journalist Jeffery Goldberg published in The Atlantic, a senior US official referred to Prime Minister Netanyahu as “chickenshit” and described him as “the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most”. More than Assad, Erdogan, the Iranian Ayatollah and Putin the ‘peace loving’ Abbas?
The curtain drop to the administration’s malice was displayed last week in the Ya’alon imbroglio. In a private conversation earlier this year, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon disparaged Secretary of State John Kerry’s behavior in relation to the peace process as “obsessive” and “messianic.” He made his remarks when Kerry was repeatedly making provocative statements against Israel and then retracting them. As defense minister, Ya’alon is limited in what he can say publicly and the fact that he spoke off-record is irrelevant if he was subsequently quoted. But he apologized and reiterated the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Nevertheless, the White House inflated his unofficial remark totally out of proportion. To invoke such a vendetta against the defense minister of its most important regional ally, months after the event, exposes the pettiness of the Obama administration. That Ya’alon was denied access to Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Susan Rice is problematic. But that this was leaked by State Department sources at the end of his visit was odious. To make matters even worse, the information was leaked to the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, whose publisher is engaged in a long-standing crusade to demonize Netanyahu and his government and which was the source that had initially released Ya’alon’s off-the-record comments. Clearly, the White House regarded this as an opportunity to undermine not only Ya’alon’s standing, but the entire Netanyahu government.
This is just the latest in a series of vindictive incidents by the Obama administration because Israel has dared to reject its diktats. Nothing illustrates President Barack Obama’s contemptuous attitude toward Israel more than his directive to withhold arms to Israel during wartime because Israel had rejected Kerry’s initiative to engage Qatar as the mediator to end the Gaza hostilities. As virtually every foreign policy initiative by Obama has proven to be disastrous, his recommendations or directives must be viewed with skepticism. After all, it is we who will have to live with the consequences. This administration adamantly insists that the Israel-Palestine status quo is untenable. Yet it remains silent as Hamas boasts of efforts to restore its terror tunnel network; barely reacts to the mayhem in Syria and Iraq where close to a quarter million people have been butchered; ignores the Qatari funding of Hamas and other terrorist entities including the Islamic State; fails to castigate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for enabling jihadists to traverse Turkey’s territory in order to fight in Syria, while standing by and allowing the massacre of the Kurds on his border.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas humiliated the U.S. administration by merging with Hamas without prior consultation. But the U.S. failed to criticize this move, has not responded to Abbas’ policy of ethnic cleansing by making any future Palestinian state Judenrein, nor condemned him for executing any Palestinian found selling land to an Israeli. The U.S. did not reprimand him for failing to denounce the act of terror in which a baby and a young woman were killed last week in Jerusalem. Yet when an Arab teenager was shot to death while hurling potentially lethal Molotov cocktails at Israeli automobiles, the U.S. immediately conveyed its condolences to the family and urged Israelis to initiate an investigation. Israel, the principal regional ally of the U.S., is the only country consistently facing criticism and has become the punching bag for the inept Obama administration, even being denunciated for opposing a nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Only recently, Kerry again conveyed to an Arab audience the absurd allegation that the Arab-Israel conflict fanned ISIS and Islamic extremism. Yet the U.S. assiduously avoids condemning or responding to rogue states guilty of criminal bloodletting, out of fear of being further humiliated and exposed as lacking leadership.
It should be noted that there is a broad consensus throughout Israel that the government is justified in resisting efforts by the U.S. and others to restrict construction in its capital Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs – which were never challenged prior to the Obama administration. There are those who question the wisdom of such an announcement at this time, but if there is one issue for which we should stand united and maintain our rights, it is construction in Jerusalem, whose development must not be dependent on endorsement from other countries. The administration’s efforts to demean Israel’s leaders have always been counterproductive. Despite the initial media frenzy, Israelis have in such circumstances responded by rallying in support of their government. And yet, now when the house of Israel should display unity, some of our politicians are behaving irresponsibly. Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni public response to the recent pathetic and mean attempt to humiliate Ya’alon implying that the fault for the breakdown in relations rests with Israel rather than with a bumbling and spiteful U.S. administration were highly inappropriate. They promote chaos and bring shame upon themselves and the government they purport to represent, conveying the mistaken impression that Israel suffers from battered wife syndrome…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jonathan S. Tobin
Commentary, Oct. 28, 2014
Since Barack Obama became president, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has been a reliable indicator of administration opinion about foreign-policy issues. Like some other journalists who can be counted on to support the president, he has been the recipient of some juicy leaks, especially when the White House wants to trash Israel’s government. But Goldberg and his “senior administration sources” reached a new low today when he published a piece in which those anonymous figures labeled Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a “chickenshit” and a “coward.” The remarks are clearly not so much a warning to the Israelis to stop complaining about the U.S. push for appeasement of a nuclear Iran and the administration’s clueless approach to the conflict with the Palestinians. Rather the story is, as Goldberg rightly characterizes it, a genuine crisis in the relationship. That much is plain but where Goldberg and the talkative administration members are wrong is their belief that this is all Netanyahu’s fault. Their attacks on him are not only plainly false but are motivated by a desire to find an excuse that will be used to justify a drastic turn in U.S. foreign policy against Israel.
The administration critique of Netanyahu as a coward stems from its disgust with his failure to make peace with the Palestinians as well as their impatience with his criticisms of their zeal for a deal with Iran even if it means allowing the Islamist regime to become a threshold nuclear power. But this is about more than policy. The prickly Netanyahu is well known to be a tough guy to like personally even if you are one of his allies. But President Obama and his foreign-policy team aren’t just annoyed by the prime minister. They’ve come to view him as public enemy No. 1, using language about him and giving assessments of his policies that are far harsher than they have ever used against even avowed enemies of the United States, let alone one of its closest allies.
So rather than merely chide him for caution they call him a coward and taunt him for being reluctant to make war on Hamas and even to launch a strike on Iran. They don’t merely castigate him as a small-time politician without vision; they accuse him of putting his political survival above the interests of his nation. It’s quite an indictment but once you get beyond the personal dislike of the individual on the part of the president, Secretary of State Kerry, and any other “senior officials” that speak without attribution on the subject of Israel’s prime minister, all you have is a thin veil of invective covering up six years of Obama administration failures in the Middle East that have the region more dangerous for both Israel and the United States. For all of his personal failings, it is not Netanyahu—a man who actually served as a combat soldier under fire in his country’s most elite commando unit—who is a coward or a small-minded failure. It is Obama and Kerry who have fecklessly sabotaged a special relationship, an act whose consequences have already led to disaster and bloodshed and may yet bring worse in their final two years of power.
It was, after all, Obama (and in the last two years, Kerry) who has spent his time in office picking pointless fights with Israel over issues like settlements and Jerusalem. They were pointless not because there aren’t genuine disagreements between the two countries on the ideal terms for peace. But rather because the Palestinians have never, despite the administration’s best efforts to tilt the diplomatic playing field in their favor, seized the chance for peace. No matter how much Obama praises Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and slights Netanyahu, the former has never been willing to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn. They also chose to launch a peace process in spite of the fact that the Palestinians remain divided between Abbas’s Fatah and Hamas-ruled Gaza, a situation that makes it impossible for the PA to make peace even if it wanted to do so. The result of their heedless push for negotiations that were bound to fail was another round of violence this summer and the possibility of another terrorist intifada in the West Bank.
On Iran, it has not been Netanyahu’s bluffing about a strike that is the problem but Obama’s policies. Despite good rhetoric about stopping Tehran’s push for a nuke, the president has pursued a policy of appeasement that caused it to discard its significant military and economic leverage and accept a weak interim deal that began the process of unraveling the international sanctions that represented the best chance for a solution without the use of force. Even faithful Obama supporter Goldberg understands that it would be madness for Israel to withdraw from more territory and replicate the Gaza terror experiment in the West Bank. He also worries that the administration is making a “weak” Iran deal even though he may be the only person on the planet who actually thinks Obama would use force to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon. So why is the administration so angry with Netanyahu? It can’t be because Netanyahu is preventing peace with the Palestinians. After the failure of Kerry’s fool’s errand negotiations and the Hamas missile war on Israel, not even Obama can think peace is at hand. Nor does he really think Netanyahu can stop him from appeasing Iran if Tehran is willing to sign even a weak deal.
The real reason to target Netanyahu is that it is easier to scapegoat the Israelis than to own up to the administration’s mistakes. Rather than usher in a new era of good feelings with the Arab world in keeping with his 2009 Cairo speech, Obama has been the author of policies that have left an already messy Middle East far more dangerous. Rather than ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his decision to withdraw U.S. troops and to dither over the crisis in Syria led to more conflict and the rise of ISIS. Instead of ending the Iranian nuclear threat, Obama is on the road to enabling it. And rather than manage an Israeli-Palestinian standoff that no serious person thought was on the verge of resolution, Obama made things worse with his and Kerry’s hubristic initiatives and constant bickering with Israel.
Despite the administration’s insults, it is not Netanyahu who is weak. He has shown great courage and good judgment in defending his country’s interests even as Obama has encouraged the Palestinians to believe they can hold out for even more unrealistic terms while denying Israel the ammunition it needed to fight Hamas terrorists. While we don’t know whether, as Goldberg believes, it is too late for Israel to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, it is Obama that Iran considers weak as it plays U.S. negotiators for suckers in the firm belief that the U.S. is a paper tiger that is not to be feared any longer. If there is a crisis, it is one that was created by Obama’s failures and inability to grasp that his ideological prejudices were out of touch with Middle East realities. The next two years may well see, as Goldberg ominously predicts, even more actions by the administration to downgrade the alliance with Israel. But the blame for this will belong to a president who has never been comfortable with Israel and who has, at every conceivable opportunity, sought conflict with it even though doing so did not advance U.S. interests or the cause of peace. No insult directed at Netanyahu, no matter how crude or pointless, can cover up the president’s record of failure.
Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2014
The president is upset. Very upset. Frustrated and angry. Seething about the government’s handling of Ebola, said the front-page headline in the New York Times last Saturday. There’s only one problem with this pose, so obligingly transcribed for him by the Times. It’s his government. He’s president. Has been for six years. Yet Barack Obama reflexively insists on playing the shocked outsider when something goes wrong within his own administration. The IRS? “It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” he thundered in May 2013 when the story broke of the agency targeting conservative groups. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS.” Except that within nine months, Obama had grown far more tolerant, retroactively declaring this to be a phony scandal without “a smidgen of corruption.” Obamacare rollout? “Nobody is more frustrated by that than I am,” said an aggrieved Obama about the botching of the central element of his signature legislative achievement. “Nobody is madder than me.”…
The one scandal where you could credit the president with genuine anger and obliviousness involves the recent breaches of White House Secret Service protection. The Washington Post described the first lady and president as “angry and upset,” and no doubt they were. But the first Secret Service scandal — the hookers of Cartagena — evinced this from the president: “If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry.” An innovation in ostentatious distancing: future conditional indignation. These shows of calculated outrage — and thus distance — are becoming not just unconvincing but unamusing. In our system, the president is both head of state and head of government. Obama seems to enjoy the monarchial parts, but when it comes to the actual business of running government, he shows little interest and even less aptitude. His principal job, after all, is to administer the government and to get the right people to do it. (That’s why we typically send governors rather than senators to the White House.) That’s called management. Obama had never managed anything before running for the biggest management job on earth. It shows.
What makes the problem even more acute is that Obama represents not just the party of government but a grandiose conception of government as the prime mover of social and economic life. The very theme of his presidency is that government can and should be trusted to do great things. And therefore society should be prepared to hand over large chunks of its operations — from health care (one-sixth of the economy) to carbon regulation down to free contraception — to the central administrative state. But this presupposes a Leviathan not just benign but competent. When it then turns out that vast, faceless bureaucracies tend to be incapable, inadequate, hopelessly inefficient and often corrupt, Obama resorts to expressions of angry surprise. He must. He’s not simply protecting his own political fortunes. He’s trying to protect faith in the entitlement state by portraying its repeated failures as shocking anomalies. Unfortunately, the pretense has the opposite effect. It produces not reassurance but anxiety. Obama’s determined detachment conveys the feeling that nobody’s home. No one leading. Not even from behind.
A poll conducted two weeks ago showed that 64 percent of likely voters (in competitive races) think that “things in the U.S. feel like they are out of control.” This is one degree of anxiety beyond thinking the country is on the wrong track. That’s been negative for years, and it’s a reflection of failed policies that in principle can be changed. Regaining control, on the other hand, is a far dicier proposition. With events in the saddle and a sense of disorder growing — the summer border crisis, Ferguson, the rise of the Islamic State, Ebola — the nation expects from the White House not miracles but competence. At a minimum, mere presence. An observer presidency with its bewildered-bystander pose only adds to the unease.
Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2014
Bill Clinton made news earlier this month when he revealed, at a joint appearance with George W. Bush , that the 43rd president used to call him twice a year during his troubled second term "just to talk." "We talked about everything in the right world," Mr. Clinton said of the conversations, which lasted anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes. "He asked my opinion, half the time he disagreed with it. But I felt good about that, I thought that was a really healthy thing." Maybe President Obama also calls Mr. Bush every now and then, just to talk, and one day we'll find out about it. But I suspect not. No president has so completely built his administration with a view toward doing—and being—the opposite of his predecessor. Long private talks wouldn't just be out of character for this president. They'd be awkward. But having a long conversation with Mr. Bush is what Mr. Obama needs to do if he means to start salvaging his failing presidency. It would be an act of contrition: for six years of vulgar ridicule and sophomoric condescension. Also, humility: for finally understanding that the intel is often wrong (and that doesn't make you a "liar"), that the choices in war are never clear or simple, that the allies aren't always with you, and that evil succumbs only to force. And it would be an act of bipartisanship: not the fake kind to which the president pays occasional lip service, but the kind that knows there is no party monopoly on wisdom, and that there is no democracy without compromise, and that there can be no compromise when your opponents sense you hold them in contempt.
"Mr. President," Mr. Obama could begin, with an emphasis on formality, "I'd like to borrow that portrait you did of Vladimir Putin so I can hang it in my private study. I need to be able to stare my enemy in the face every day." That should break the ice. Maybe then the two presidents can start talking about a few things they have in common. Like going from big re-elections to dismal ratings in a matter of months. Like realizing that you will soon lose the Congress, and that your own party is turning on you. Like figuring out that your top cabinet officers and White House confidantes are failing you. Like having your past boasts about military success rendered ridiculous by events. Like needing to come up with a new strategy, quickly, before a foreign-policy setback becomes a full-blown calamity. "Tell me about firing Don Rumsfeld, " Mr. Obama might inquire. That's a good subject to dwell on, because firing is what presidents do when a signature policy is visibly failing, as Iraq policy was in the summer of 2006. In the Rumsfeld case, Mr. Bush faced a particularly difficult task: Mr. Rumsfeld was a man the president admired, a peer of his father, a team player—and an object of partisan venom, meaning his sacking would be treated in the media as an admission of failure and a scalp for Democrats.
If Mr. Obama isn't thinking about cashiering a top adviser, he should start now. CIA Director John Brennan has presided over serial intelligence debacles—including the failure to anticipate the fall of Mosul—while National Intelligence Director James Clapper has had no credibility in Congress since he lied to a Senate committee. John Kerry 's incompetent diplomacy in Jerusalem and Ramallah helped set the stage for the Gaza War. Susan Rice is toxic with Republicans on account of her public misrepresentations regarding Benghazi and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and toxic with allies because of her penchant for foul-mouthed tirades. Hapless Chuck Hagel is busy downsizing the U.S. military while demanding that Europeans increase their military spending. The dismissal of any of these people would send a useful signal to U.S. allies that the president has the nerve—and self-awareness—to make a change.
"Mr. President," Mr. Bush could modestly suggest, "go to Congress, say the threats we face from Russia and ISIS and Iran require a bigger military, and name Stan McChrystal or Dave Petraeus as your next Defense Secretary and Ray Odierno as your new national security adviser. Add a few hawks to your team. That'll bury a couple of ghosts. And it'll get Vladimir's immediate attention." "Interesting ideas, George. Final question: How do I kick things off with Mitch McConnell when he's majority leader?" "He can't be worse than Harry Reid , can he?" Mr. Bush might reply. "Be gracious. Pretend you know something about horses and bourbon. Don't make promises in private that you'll renege on in public. Never keep him waiting. Don't give speeches denouncing Republicans as mean and greedy. Listen as if you might actually learn something. Give something if you want to get something." "OK, thanks. Gotta go help Sasha with her geometry homework. Any advice on that?" "Call Clinton. He's the triangulator."
The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, Oct. 28, 2014 —The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most.
The Education of a Wartime President: Alan M. Dershowitz, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 5, 2014—Last year the Obama administration issued, with considerable fanfare, a new military policy designed to reduce civilian casualties when U.S. forces are attacking enemy targets. This policy required “near certainty” that there will be no civilian casualties before an air attack is permitted.
How the Jewish State is Being Demonized: Clifford D. May, National Post, Oct. 30, 2014 —Last week, a terrorist drove his car into a crowd at a light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old baby.
Officials Reveal US is Cozying Up to Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas: Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 29, 2014 —The same Tuesday night that a senior official in US President Barack Obama's administration was quoted calling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "chickens**t," yet more officials indicated the US is warming up to cooperation with Iran – the Islamic regime seeking nuclear weapons that has repeatedly declared its desire to destroy Israel.
Obama Administrations’ Undiplomatic Remarks Detached from Reality: Rachel Avraham, Jerusalem Online, Oct. 29, 2014—Jeffrey Goldberg recently reported in the Atlantic that an anonymous Obama administration official referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “chicken shit” related to all matters involving the peace process and a “coward” when it comes to confronting Iran’s nuclear program.
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